18.467 blogging Humanist

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2005 10:37:06 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 18, No. 467.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Geoffrey Rockwell <georock_at_mcmaster.ca> (37)
         Subject: Re: 18.460 blogging Humanist

   [2] From: James Cummings <James.Cummings_at_ota.ahds.ac.uk> (34)
         Subject: Re: 18.460 blogging Humanist

   [3] From: "Jim Marchand" <marchand_at_UIUC.EDU> (16)
         Subject: blogging Humanist

   [4] From: Patrick T Rourke <ptrourke_at_methymna.com> (6)
         Subject: Re: 18.460 blogging Humanist

   [5] From: "Patrik Svensson" (29)
         Subject: RE: 18.460 blogging Humanist

   [6] From: Vika Zafrin <amarena_at_gmail.com> (59)
         Subject: blogging - or re-listing? - Humanist

         Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2005 10:14:07 +0000
         From: Geoffrey Rockwell <georock_at_mcmaster.ca>
         Subject: Re: 18.460 blogging Humanist

On the subject of Humanist and blogs,

I would like to see Humanist stay an edited and digested list, but would
recommend that it also be available as a an RSS feed. I'm not sure blogs
are designed for hundreds of posters and there may be people who find them
hard to use.

Once we have Humanist as an RSS feed it can appear as a blog and those who
want to could individually craft the mix of blogs that we like to read. I
for example am fond of the following humanities research blogs which would
be nicely complemented by Humanist:

Interesting Other Blogs:
StÚfan Sinclair's scribblings and musings -
jill/txt - http://huminf.uib.no/~jill/
MGK - Matthew Kirschenbaum http://www.otal.umd.edu/~mgk/blog/
Words' End - http://wordsend.org/
Adrian Miles' vlog - http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/vog/vlog/
grand TEXT auto - http://grandtextauto.gatech.edu/
Ross Scaife: Stoa.org

I am sure there are others, but these are some I try to read that I
recommend to others.

On a related note, as part of the TAPoR portal we are building a news
engine with the following features:

1. Authorized users (or groups) can author news items (a lot like blog
entries) to a "channel"

2. News from a channel can go out in a number of ways. It can appear in the
news area of a users' portal account. It can be sent to a distribution list
for e-mail distribution, it can appear on a web page that is designed to
look like it is part of another web site (for an organization), and it can
be an RSS feed.

So, for example, the news that appears on the www.tapor.ca site (which is
not the portal) is actually generated and stylized from the portal (and
then ingested with a chron job.)

We are building this on top of Cocoon and will be returning the code to the
Apache foundation for those who want such news systems. If anyone wants an
account on our alpha portal to experiment with such a news system, please
e-mail me or Lian Yan, lyan -at- mcmaster -dot- ca.


Geoffrey Rockwell

         Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2005 10:14:32 +0000
         From: James Cummings <James.Cummings_at_ota.ahds.ac.uk>
         Subject: Re: 18.460 blogging Humanist

>A blog can be on LiveJournal or not on LiveJournal.

The best ones aren't.

>If on LiveJournal (which seems to be the default), not just anyone can
>post to it, but only people with LJ blogs themselves. I got an LJ account
>just so I could post to others' blogs (and now have an LJ blog to which I
>never post as a result). To get an LJ account, you have to either know
>someone willing to give you an invitation, or you have to pay. This might
>pose a difficulty to some humanist members.

This first point is not true. It is set by the individual livejournal user
as to whether anonymous posts can be made. (I don't have an LJ account and
never will, but recently posted to a friend's journal.) As
with gmail invites, once one person in a sub-community has one, the rest
who want accounts get them easily. But buying into an external,
commercial, company's view of what blogging should be I think would go
against the grain of what Willard has created. If Willard decided to take
Humanist down this route, or even just experiment with it, I'd like
to think it would be something under his (or an assistant's) control not
a commercial company. As you suggest, MovableType and Wordpress are two of
the most popular, but there are others.


>Personally, I'd rather read this list on a blog than by email, but I'm not
>sure the same is true of a majority of its readers. I hope I'm wrong!

I would happily read this list as email or as an RSS feed.

Ross comments:
>I'd be enthusiastic about conversion of Humanist to a blog format. It
>would be a substantial improvement to have RSS feeds for each message,
>multiple registered posters, comments, links to other relevant blogs
>etc., searchable archives, and so forth.

Although I'm a happy reader of many RSS feeds as well, don't email
lists generally allow most of these things as well? (Registered posters,
comments, links to external resources, archives, etc.)


Dr James Cummings, Oxford Text Archive, University of Oxford
James dot Cummings at oucs dot ox dot ac dot uk
         Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2005 10:15:14 +0000
         From: "Jim Marchand" <marchand_at_UIUC.EDU>
         Subject: blogging Humanist
I see little value and some harm in blogging humanist.  I have been
a member of Humanist since about 1990, and I cannot remember having
any trouble posting to it. There are two kinds of lists, grosso
modo, open and closed.  Humanist chose from the beginning to be
closed, that is, you have to be a member to post, and the list-
owner decides whether to allow your post.  Willard and his
predecessors have done a great job in this matter, and Humanist has
always been remarkable free of flame wars and the like.
This does not mean that I approve of everything (nemo sine
preferentia, or words to that effect). I notice that we often lean
towards the History of Science, History of Philosophy, Philosophy
of Science, even Sociology of Science, Knowledge rather than
Humanities. On all lists, I have noticed fewer postings and less
scholarship per se.  I think that this is because people have too
much to do rather than deal with spam, viruses and the like.
Anyway, I think Willard does a good job.  Someone could start a
Humanities Blog, and that might lessen his burden somewhat.
         Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2005 10:16:59 +0000
         From: Patrick T Rourke <ptrourke_at_methymna.com>
         Subject: Re: 18.460 blogging Humanist
While I'd suggest that archiving Humanist in a blog-like format would be
very useful, for reasons Ross has suggested, I wonder if the quality of
Humanist might be compromised without WM's editorial contributions. There
is a distinct generic difference between a blog and a moderated discussion
list, and it seems to me that to blog Humanist would be to make it
something other than Humanist.
Patrick Rourke
         Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2005 10:17:47 +0000
         From: "Patrik Svensson" <patrik.svensson_at_engelska.umu.se>
         Subject: RE: 18.460 blogging Humanist
  > -----Original Message-----
  > From: Humanist Discussion Group
  > [mailto:humanist_at_Princeton.EDU] On Behalf Of Humanist
  > Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty
  > <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>)
  > Sent: den 6 januari 2005 08:26
  > To: humanist_at_Princeton.EDU
  >  >
  >   >         Date: Tue, 04 Jan 2005 07:13:12 +0000
  >   >         From: Pat Galloway <galloway_at_ischool.utexas.edu>
  >   >          >
Hello Pat,
Thanks for bringing this up!
  > A blog can be on LiveJournal or not on LiveJournal.
For a most interesting discussion of the difference between LiveJournal and
(regular) blogs, see danah boyd's recent blog entry at
[danah's blog is really excellent]
Myself I quite like the present format of Humanist and for instance, I am
not quite sure how threading would work in a blog. I guess people commenting
on an initial post might post comments but normally, comments are given a
much less prominent place in blogs than in the present Humanist format. This
might not be a problem but the affordances of blogs are certainly different
than those of an email list. And also there is the question of what do with
the historical record (Humanist list 1987-) :).
Patrik Svensson
HUMlab, Umeň University, Sweden
         Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2005 10:19:50 +0000
         From: Vika Zafrin <amarena_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: blogging - or re-listing? - Humanist
The blogging thread is an interesting one.  Currently I run three
weblogs, one personal, one co-authored and one work-related, all using
WordPress.  It would be very interesting to have Humanist become a
weblog, but it would take some doing.
Spam is indeed a problem, although there are increasingly great
solutions.  I routinely spend anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours a
day on blog spam; most days it's under half an hour.
Jessica Perry Hakman writes about LiveJournal:
  > If on LiveJournal (which seems to be the default), not just anyone can
  > post to it, but only people with LJ blogs themselves. I got an LJ account
  > just so I could post to others' blogs (and now have an LJ blog to which I
  > never post as a result). To get an LJ account, you have to either know
  > someone willing to give you an invitation, or you have to pay. This might
  > pose a difficulty to some humanist members.
LiveJournal is indeed popular, although I'm not sure it's the default.
   Currently, it has about 5.5 million users.  (Or maybe it's 6.5
million, recent info has been conflicting.)  Free accounts have been
available without an invitation code for a long while now.  Whether or
not to allow anonymous comments is up to the owner of each particular
account, and is changeable from post to post.  To originate posts in a
community (multi-author blog), however, you must be a member of that
community, which requires you to have a LJ account.  Comment spam has
not been a problem so far on LiveJournal.
Today the announcement was made: Six Apart, creators of Movable Type
and TypePad, has bought LiveJournal.  At the moment, this does not
mean anything will change; but Six Apart's M.O. has been rather
different from that of the LJ folx, and so I am frankly sceptical as
to how long the status quo will last.   (Full disclosure: I'm one of
those people that stopped using MovableType very soon after it went
paid, and along with many others was rather annoyed about the way in
which the whole thing was handled.)
All of this said, I'd still vote for Humanist switching gears to
automated list software.  My favorite, and the one used by something
like a dozen other lists I'm on, is mailman.  Any human can subscribe;
there's a confirmation email for that, and replying to it is
technically automatable but hasn't been hacked yet.  Only subscribed
users can post to the list, and spam gets deleted by the list
administrator at their leisure, until which time it's held in a queue.
   Archiving is automatic, and can be made public or not.
I seem to remember something about the servers on which Humanist is
housed being incompatible with new list software.  If the list is to
change form at all, my guess is that most efficient would be finding a
server that could house mailman.
  > Personally, I'd rather read this list on a blog than by email, but I'm not
  > sure the same is true of a majority of its readers. I hope I'm wrong!
Hm, now there's an interesting question.  I'm not sure I have a
preference, but that's because I read both email and weblogs every
day, a lot.  I suspect that more lower-case-h humanists routinely read
email than routinely use weblogs, and so going somewhere that's *not*
their inbox for their Humanist list fix might be a bother.
Vika Zafrin
Director, Virtual Humanities Lab
Brown University Box 1942
Providence, RI 02912 USA
Received on Fri Jan 07 2005 - 05:46:39 EST

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